Matthew Introduction
The book of Matthew is the first in order of the four gospels. It was probably the second of the gospels written, following the book of John, although it may have been the third or even the fourth as well.Mary and Baby Jesus

Matthew differs from the other gospels in taking the viewpoint of Christ as the King, the heir to David’s throne and the ruler of Israel. It therefore concerns itself with the things of kingship, such as royal lineage, birth, honors (from the wisemen), etc. It gives the rules of the Kingdom (the Sermon on the Mount), and tells parables describing the kingdom. Kingship is stamped upon it from beginning to end, and keeping this in mind will greatly aid us in studying the book.

Matthew is one of the two gospels written by one of the twelve. Matthew was a tax collector (also named Levi) before Christ called him to follow Him. Matthew was an Israelite, and would have been very well acquainted with Jewish customs and laws. He also could have been a Levite because he was called “Levi.” When Christ called him, however, he was a tax collector, which meant that he had been excommunicated from life in Israel and was living as an outcast. How much Christ’s acceptance must have meant to him!

One thing to make note of in a book written with a Jewish audience in mind is the use of Jewish figures of speech. For example, the term “Kingdom of Heaven” is always used in this book, whereas “Kingdom of God” is used in Mark and Luke. The difference is that the Jews refused to say God’s name, thinking that to even speak it would be to stain it somehow. Thus, they often substituted other words for “God,” and “Heaven” was one of the favorites. This substitution is still in use by orthodox Jews today, in fact! Notice the common use of this term in this book. But remember that there is no difference between this Kingdom and the “Kingdom of God” in Mark and Luke.

Matthew 1

1. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

This is the first occurrence of this term “the book of the genealogy” since the book of Ruth. This term is used eleven times in the book of Genesis, once in Numbers 3:1, and once in Ruth 4:18. The fourteenth and final occurrence is here in the book of Matthew. In the book of Genesis, this phrase was used to mark authorship, not just a genealogy, though it often does introduce one. Moses may have compiled the book, but he did so from writings handed down by the men who lived through these events. However, it certainly could be talking about authorship here as well, for the whole Bible was written by the Word of the Lord, and Jesus Christ is the written Word Himself!

2. Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.

This word for “begot” indicates not just a natural lineage, but considers the advent of each generation as an event. The idea is more that each generation “produced” the next. This list is not so much a lineage as it is a catalogue of events leading up to the birth of Israel’s great King. This is similar to the way a king might recount the important events in the past that had led up to His current reign. And just as a king might leave out members of his lineage who were considered unworthy of being included in his royal heritage, so the more wicked members of Christ’s line are excised from this lineage. This is not dishonest, for this is not a strict lineage per se but rather the credentials of a king. And certainly it is true that a grandfather or great-grandfather may claim some responsibility in “producing” their grandchildren.

3. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.

Notice that Tamar, though she was a prostitute, is included in the line. She won this place, in spite of her past, because of her faith.

4. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.
5. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse,
6. and Jesse begot David the king.

David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

This is the point at which this royal line of Christ diverges from the natural bloodline, as Joseph, from whom Christ inherited the royal claims, was descended from David’s son Solomon, whereas Mary, from whom Christ inherited His lineage as the Son of Man, was descended from a different son of David, Nathan.

7. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.
8. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah.
9. Ussiah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah.
10. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot amon, and Amon begot Josiah.
11. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

This is a clear example of certain wicked individuals being cut out of the royal line, for Jeconiah was not Josiah’s son, but rather his grandson. The missing generation is King Jehoiakim. He was the king who, as we read in Jeremiah 36:20-26, took the scroll of the word of God and, as each section was read, cut that section out of the book and burned it in the fire. He cut up God’s Word, and so God here cuts Him out of His Word in Christ’s lineage. He thought the Word of God was unworthy of his attention, and so he is likewise deemed unworthy to be a part of the lineage of the Lord. Thus, even though he was a blood ancestor of Christ, he is not mentioned here. This is a royal lineage, not a bloodline, and so the Lord has a perfect right to disclude him like this.

12. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel.

This is where the lineage of Mary and Joseph combine for a time, as Shealtiel married a daughter of Neri, a man in Mary’s line. Mary’s lineage then extends through Zerubbabel, and splits from Joseph’s again when her line follows Zerubbabel’s son Rhesa whereas Joseph’s follows Zerubbabel’s son Abiud.

13. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor.
14. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud.
15. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.

This is Christ’s royal lineage. As Christ is the King of Israel, the lineage starts at the beginning of the nation of Israel with the call of Abraham. For it to have started any earlier (for example, with Noah or Adam) would have made no sense, as Israel did not exist then! Thus, we get the lineage through to Joseph, from whom the kingship passes to his (adopted) son Jesus.

16. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

Notice that Joseph did not “beget” Christ, as his father begot him and so forth on back through the lineage.

17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

This setup is clearly to present Christ’s lineage in a perfect way, as 2x7x3 generations. Seven and three are both perfect numbers. However, remember that this lineage does not include everyone who could be listed. This is a regal presentation of Christ’s kingly credentials, and not a technical bloodline.

18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

Mary was betrothed to Joseph…but this was much more binding than our engagements today. One would have to be divorced to break such an engagement. This is similar to the “troth-plight” of the middle ages, whereby Shakespeare was bound to his wife before conceiving their first child. At the time of the betrothal was when the ceremony was actually performed. Then, the two individuals were to prepare for their life together, the woman in training for keeping the house, raising the children, and so forth, and the man in training for plying his trade. Then, once both were ready and a house established, they would come together and live as man and wife. No further ceremony was necessary for this to occur. To sleep together after betrothal but before all was prepared for cohabiting was frowned upon, but it was not considered a sin, as the betrothal was binding. However, this is not what occurred in this case, as this was before they came together.

She was found with child of the Holy Spirit. In Greek this is the power of the Holy Spirit, not the person. We must not picture the Holy Spirit coming upon her as a person as a man would come upon a woman to have a child by her. Rather we should picture Him sending forth His power to create a child in her womb (using one of her eggs as starting material, no doubt.)

19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

Some have suggested that this should read, “ALTHOUGH he was a just man.” Indeed, justice would have called for Mary’s blood at this point. Joseph seems to have cared for her, however, and did not want to put her through the public shame that such an accusation would have brought her. Thus he decided to divorce her quietly. This would be necessary in the event of a betrothal in those days, in spite of the fact that the marriage was never consummated.

20. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

God did not want Jesus to be fatherless. We cannot accuse God of not caring for His Son, as so many fathers do not care for theirs in our day! God made certain that Jesus would have a father by sending this angel (most likely Gabriel, the same angel who appeared to Mary in Luke,) to Joseph.

21. “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for he will save His people from their sins.”

He will save his people from their sins! What a statement!

JESUS in Greek is the same name as Joshua in the Old Testament Hebrew. There was nothing unusual about this name. What it means is “Yahweh (is) the Savior.” In the case of Christ, of course, it took on a deeper meaning, for He WAS “Yahweh the Savior”!

22. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through a prophet, saying:
23. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

A friend asked me once how this prophecy could be fulfilled when they called His name Jesus, not Immanuel. Doesn’t this seem to be a contradiction? Yet we need to remember that someone’s name has to do with his reputation or perceived character, and not necessarily the single word that is his name. In this case our Lord’s reputation was as “God with us,” God walking on the earth with His people. This was what was meant by the prophecy, not that this is what his name would literally be.

24. Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,
25. and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Notice that Joseph did not “know” Mary until she brought forth Jesus. But this implies that he did know her afterward! The Catholic doctrine of Mary’s eternal virginity is unfounded. This doctrine is just another attempt to deify her in a form similar to the virgin goddesses of the pagans.

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